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Which way now for enterprise social? A guide for vendors and buyers

Submitted by on November 13, 2012 – 1:09 pmNo Comment

In a business context, social has long-since evolved beyond customer-facing marketing strategies; it’s become an integral corporate workplace tool.

We’ve seen numerous examples of technologies designed to bring the ease of social into the boardroom, and as the enterprise social software (ESS) becomes increasingly ingrained in standard workplace operations, the social biz is looking ahead to future developments in the area. Helpfully, IDC MarketScape’s report ‘Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012 Vendor Analysis’ is able to shed some light on what’s on the horizon.

According to the report: “Organizations are now seeking solutions that not only support internal knowledge sharing and information dissemination, but also build customers, partners, and suppliers into a more externally focused and strategic decision-making process.”

Indeed, there’s a lot of jargon in the report, but sifting through it reveals that businesses are – by-and-large – ready to take ESS to the next level. Simply ‘connecting’ is no longer enough.

Leading the enterprise social software pack in terms of strategy and capability is Socialcast, it seems. Thanks to a seamless blending across clients, external group collaboration, comprehensive archiving and the ability to link business systems and services together in a secure but open application framework has, IDC says, “given the company a leadership position” – other vendors would do well to look to them for insight.

IDC has also offered guidance for both vendors and buyers in the ESS arena, which should be heeded as closely as possible to ensure business model sustainability over the next three to five years.

Vendors

  • Customers expect seamless native and in-application experience as standard, which should be implemented across all application interfaces.
  • ESS must support a variety of open standards – at the very least OAUth, Activitystre.ms and Open Graph – to “foster a community of developers that will build solution extensions and integrations and eventually integrate social solutions together”.
  • Data models need to be “extensible” to customers so that any data generated through the ESS can be analysed as appropriate.
  • ESS should include secure group options to allow users to bring in external parties for active collaboration.
  • ESS will need to include task and workflow management to facilitate social processes at the point of work.

Buyers

  • At a very basic level, ESS should at least contribute to increased productivity.
  • As networks expand, be prepared for employees’ knowledge to expand beyond their expected specifications as feedback and expert engagement leads to increased sharing and learning.
  • ESS is not a ‘quick fix’ solution. “It required the support of solution champions and community management as well as an active technical support community provided by the vendor.”
  • Consider how new ESS solutions will integrate with existing applications, and how the portfolio will take shape in the future – this will help to dictate future purchases and also identify areas requiring attention.
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